Guide to a Stress-Free Family Trip to Iceland
All You Need to Know Before Hiking With Kids
July 16, 2019
Can't wait to go hiking with your kids? Many families postpone their vacations for a few years or “just until kids get a bit older...” Let’s face it - traveling with children can be a challenge if you’re not prepared.
But we’re not going to lie - Iceland’s countryside is just AMAZING. And what better way to explore the Highlands than while also recharging and bonding with your family? Don’t miss the chance to introduce your family to extraordinary nature and wildlife, that’s certain to leave the whole family with a lasting love of the outdoors.
Here’s where some good groundwork can go a long way! We’ve collected the most useful tips to make your family hiking trip to Iceland run as smoothly as possible.
Follow our tips for a stress-free hiking tour with children and hit the trail for your next perfect family vacation!
Follow our Tips for Hiking with Kids!
Choose a Family-Friendly Hiking Trail in Iceland
Most hiking tours have minimum age requirements, so you’ll always have a good idea of whether it’s a family-friendly hiking trail. These age limits are based on multiple factors, including safety, terrain, and the experience level that is required in order to fully enjoy the hike. However, there are some individual factors that you should consider with your own children in mind.
When hiking with kids, it’s important to have a good idea of the distance they can cover in one day. Be realistic about what your kids can handle and don’t expect to hike up the largest mountains on your first go. Allow them to fall in love with hiking slowly!
If you’re looking at multi-day tours, find out what distance you’ll cover in a day. For example, our Landmannalaugar tour lasts three days and you’ll be hiking 10 to 12 km (6-7.5 mi) on the first day, 11 km (6.8 mi) on the second one, and 7 km (4.3 mi) on the last day. You can take this family-friendly hiking tour with kids as young as 10 years old. It’s an easy tour and most 10-year-olds can hike this trail without any problems, making it a great choice for first-time hikers.
Pick a Day Trip or a Multi-Day Family Hike
Iceland offers countless trails for hikers with all levels of experience. Depending on what you and your family are looking to see, choose between day hikes and multi-day tours.
Family-Friendly Day Hiking Tours
Children from 8 years old and up are welcome to join an adventurous day of hiking on black sand beaches visiting thundering waterfalls, mighty glaciers, and powerful volcanoes. The tour lasts for up to 12 hours and takes you to all famous sights on the South Coast. An ever-changing landscape and a variety of attractions will keep the little explorers interested at all times.
If you’re excited to see the tallest waterfall in Iceland, take your family on a day hike to Glymur Waterfall! The trail in West Iceland will lead you through the green Botnsdalur Valley, dense birch forests, and a large lava cave. The hike is rated as moderate, but it’s suitable for children over the age of 10. The tour involves an adventurous river crossing and some steep climbs, so make sure you’re prepared!
For those who wish to see the natural wonders Iceland’s famous for, but prefer an easier hike, we offer a day tour in east Iceland. On this tour, you’ll see not one, but 15 waterfalls! The trip involves a visit to the Wilderness Center, where you’ll learn about the local wildlife. After an enlightening exhibition, an adventurous hike will follow. Get ready for a cableway ride across the Jökulsá River and keep an eye out for local animals. If we’re lucky, we’ll see reindeer and sheep grazing around the restless waters. The kids will be excited!
The youngest hikers will enjoy a short tour to a crystal ice cave inside the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. Travelers as young as 5 years old are welcome to experience the mighty ice cap from the inside. The tour takes about 2 hours in total and you’ll spend 45 minutes in the cave. Take a picture in front of the bright blue ice for a perfect family vacation photo!
We’d love to see your best vacation moments, so don’t forget to share them with us on social media!
Multi-Day Family Trekking Tours
If you’re ready for a multi-day family trekking adventure, spend 6 days on one of the best hiking trails in the world. Hike from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork and enjoy the views of volcanoes, rugged mountains, and endless lava fields. It’s a great adventure for explorers who are 8 and above. It’s a moderate tour that covers a total of 77 km (48 mi). During the trip, you’ll be staying in tents and spend cozy evenings surrounded by nature and your loved ones.
A slightly shorter family trekking tour at Landmannalaugar is this 4-day hiking tour. The hike covers 55 km (34 mi) and is perfect for families looking to enjoy the green Thorsmork valley at the foot of the famous Eyjafjallajokull Volcano.
During these multi-day tours, a support vehicle will carry your luggage from one camp to another, so you don’t need to worry about lugging your gear. Simply enjoy the fresh Icelandic air and the stunning views.
What to Bring on a Family Hiking Tour?
To make your vacation planning easier, every trip has a list of things that you should take on the tour. It includes all the equipment that you should bring on a specific tour as well as recommended outfits.
However, if your traveling with kids you may want to add a few things to the list:
Pack a first aid kit. No need to bring a large kit, as the guide will most likely have one. However, make some space in your bag for the items that are most frequently used and don’t take up too much space. Think about packing a few extra bandages and disinfection wipes. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Put extra snacks in your pockets. Even if you’re going on a tour where meals are included, it’s a good idea to always have some fruit, a cereal bar, or a bar of chocolate within hand’s reach. Just in case someone gets hangry — it might not even be the kids!
Bring nature exploration toys. Keep your children interested and busy by allowing them to explore nature. Toy binoculars, a magnifying glass, or a compass will make your child feel like a true explorer on a big adventure! If they’ve heard stories about world explorers, kids will be quick to relate.
How to Keep Kids Interested While Hiking
One of the hardest tasks during family trips is keeping children interested and busy. Here are a few tricks to follow to help make your family hiking holiday a pleasant and memorable experience for everyone!
Reward children. Hiking is exciting, but the little ones might require some extra motivation. Whether it’s their favorite snack midway through the trip or a new toy, they’ll be happy to earn it. A new toy doesn’t mean an expensive brand new toy car, but rather something they’ve not played with before. Give them a travel journal to fill in after the trip or ask them to collect a set of small beautiful rocks.
Keep it fun. Consider incorporating games into the hike. Whether it’s looking for the largest pine or racing to the next big tree (not too far and only on flat terrain!), kids will remember hiking as a fun activity and want to do it again.
Introduce kids to nature. Icelandic nature is full of unique plants and it’s the perfect place to teach your kids about nature and its treasures. Take advantage of having an experienced guide by your side. Ask them about the plants and animals in the area and discuss them with your kids. Also, take the opportunity to teach your children how to respect nature. Set a strong example by staying on the designated trails and not touching anything you ought not to touch.
While family holidays require some extra preparation, traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a headache. Pick the best hiking tour for you, follow our tips, and start planning your next stress-free family hiking vacation in Iceland!
Do you have any time-tested advice for visiting Iceland with kids? Share your best tips in the comments!